Should I talk to the police?
No, you should not. I spoke about this in a previous post about invoking your right to talk to a lawyer. But I still get a lot of questions about this, so I’d like to expand.
Three things you need to know
There are three important things you probably already know, but you need to remember in this situation. The first is your right to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent: “No person. . .shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
The second is your right to deal with the police through an attorney. If you cannot afford one, you will be provided an attorney by the court.
The third is that the burden of proof that you committed a criminal offense is on prosecutor. You never have the burden of proving that you are innocent. You have special protections under the law and do not have to tell them anything.
When the police ask you to come down to the station to be interviewed, respond with these words, “I want to talk to a lawyer first.” Then call me. You do not have to, nor should you ever, talk to the police if you are a suspect or a possible suspect in the commission of a crime.
Below are some of the objections I hear clients make when I advise them not to talk to the police, followed by how I would likely answer those objections.
But I would like to be cooperative, and show that I want to be helpful.
Often my clients want to be helpful to the police, and that is very admirable. However, as the Miranda warning states, “everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” If you have not been arrested and are just being interviewed, the police are under no obligation to remind you that you have the right to remain silent, or that you have the right to an attorney. When the police ask for an interview, they also do not have to tell you what evidence they already have, what witnesses they have spoken to, or anything else that anyone has said about you. They don’t even have to tell you whether or not you are suspect.
But I will just look guilty if I refuse to talk to the police.
The fact that you refused to talk to the police cannot be used against you. In talking to the police, you could unwittingly say something that gives them reason to think you are guilty, or gives them additional evidence that they can use to officially charge you with a crime.
But I am innocent, and I would like to clear my name.
Believe it or not, you may not even know if you are innocent of violating some law. You cannot be expected to know all of the laws that are on the books. We’ve often heard it said, and it is true, that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” for breaking the law. If the police are asking to talk to you, there is a good possibility that they believe you have broken a law, and they may have evidence to support their belief. However, they don’t have to tell you that before or during their interview.
I didn’t commit any crime, but I could give the police helpful information that could lead them to right suspects.
The trouble here is that, in the process of trying to help the police, you may be putting yourself into a situation that gives the police evidence against you. There are too many unknown factors for you.
Hire a lawyer
Always hire a lawyer before talking to the police. The lawyers of Dearie, Fischer & Mathews can help you get more information about your case and can talk to the police for you. We have a great deal of experience talking with the police departments in Lebanon, Beavercreek, and the surrounding areas: Warren, Montgomery, Butler and Greene Counties, and all of southwest Ohio.